February 21st, 2017
Often, if a couple has trouble conceiving, they may start to wonder if either has a fertility problem. More than 7 million Americans are infertile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have been trying to conceive for over a year (or six months if the female is over 35) and are still not pregnant, you and your partner may want to get tested for infertility.
Fertility testing includes a physical exams and medical history of both partners. Past birth control use, sexual and pregnancy history, current sexual practices, medications, previous surgeries, health issues, lifestyle, and work/life environment are just some of the topics a doctor will want to discuss.
Men will undergo a semen analysis to determine sperm count and sperm movement. Typically, a doctor will be able to tell you if you have a sperm problem but may not be able to tell you why. At-home semen analysis kits are available over
the counter. Infertility can be related to genetics or injury. After a semen analysis, a testicular biopsy maybe necessary.
This procedure can identify abnormalities contributing to infertility and can retrieve sperm to use with assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF (in vitro fertilization).
For women, first a doctor will ensure that ovulation is occurring, common in women with irregular periods. If a woman is in fact ovulating, a doctor will perform an ultrasound to screen for abnormalities or blockages in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Next, blood testing and an ultrasound can confirm a woman’s remaining egg supply.
Men and women can also undergo genetic testing if there is reason to believe that a genetic or chromosomal abnormality is the reason for infertility. In addition, tests can evaluate how sperm and eggs interact with each other. Sometimes, a woman’s immune system recognizes sperm as foreign and attacks it.
Men and women contribute equally to fertility issues. Some couples find success in “at-home” remedies such as abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, improving diet and weight, reducing stress, and having intercourse on peak fertility days during a woman’s ovulation cycle can naturally help a couple conceive.
Fertility treatments can be stressful and lead to many emotions, including anxiety, depression, anger, shame, or guilt. These emotions can further hinder a couple’s ability to conceive. Experts recommend group support, remaining supportive of your partner, and stress relief. There are many ways to have a child other than traditional conception including IVF treatments, surrogacy, and adoption.
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